Coach Defies Bullies, Resumes Praying After Football Games

cchkndyLast month, I wrote about a high school football coach at my alma mater who was bullied into dropping a voluntary prayer he performed on the 50-yard line after games. He was told if he didn’t stop praying, he would be fired. After this all came out publicly, he merely gave a speech at the next game, instead of the usual prayer he’d given for the past nine years.

But was his praying unconstitutional? Liberty Institute, which deals with religious constitutional issues, doesn’t think so, and agreed to represent him on the legal aspects. Last Friday night, with the law on his side, coach Joe Kennedy resumed his prayer after the game on the 50-yard line, to the cheers of hundreds who showed up to support him — including the opposing team, which surprised him by joining him for the prayer.

So what does the law say? The U.S. Supreme Court has whittled away the First Amendment’s religious liberty clause over the years, restricting prayer in public places to certain criteria, primarily known as the Lemon test, which analyzes the extent of government involvement. Teachers generally can no longer lead prayer in class, but there is no clear-cut legal decision against a football coach saying a prayer.

Generally, nonsectarian prayers have been upheld in public places by the Supreme Court. Coach Kennedy’s prayer is nonsectarian, generically mentioning God with no specific reference to any religion. It is voluntary, team members chose on their own over the years to join him. It is performed after the game, when he is no longer acting as a coach. Overall, it seems to clearly pass the Supreme Court’s Lemon test for constitutionality.

Read the rest of the article at Townhall

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